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Gov tables return of roaming charges in event of no-deal Brexit

Gov tables return of roaming charges in event of no-deal Brexit

Travelling to Europe looks set to get more expensive, again

FREE DATA ROAMING looks set to face the same fate as prescription drugs, baked beans and hope in the event of a no-deal Brexit. 

Backing up earlier reports, HuffPost has spied a draft ‘statutory instrument’ which confirms that current legislation that allows for free data roaming, first introduced in June 2017, will be scrapped if the UK crashes out of Europe without a deal. 

If the UK government agrees a ‘deal’ with the EU before Brexit, which is seeming increasingly unlikely, then current mobile roaming rules are expected to continue until the end of 2020 at least. 

The newly-spotted regulation, tabled as part of UK gov’s no-deal preparations, means that from 29 March, Brits will be liable for surcharges when they travel across Europe because “it will not be possible to impose a limit on the wholesale charges faced by UK operators when their customers use networks owned by EU operators”.

HuffPost adds that, in a note accompanying the draft regulation, the government admits that consumer groups lobbied hard for a new scheme to maintain the current arrangements, but notes that “after careful consideration, the government decided not to adopt this proposal.”

The government admits that it did cave to demands from UK mobile operators, though, which warned “that a limit on the costs that could be passed onto customers would affect the sustainability of certain roaming services”. 

Commenting on the plans, shadow Brexit minister Jenny Chapman said: “This is a stark reminder of the Tories” chaotic handling of the Brexit negotiations. 

“The Prime Minister has repeatedly refused to rule out no deal. And yet these proposals prove that it will be holidaymakers and businesses that are forced to pay the price for this government’s incompetence. 

“It’s unacceptable that these plans have been snuck out. Ministers need to start being straight with the British public about the consequences of no deal and take it off the table once and for all.”

The DCMS is apparently hoping that some mobile phone firms will voluntarily continue to offer free data roaming, but last week, MoneySavingExpert revealed that just two out of 12 major operators – Three and Smarty, which is owned by Three – had committed to keeping roaming free after Brexit.

The report added that “at least” 20 firms, which between them account for an estimated 85 per cent of UK mobile users – say they have “no plans” to change their roaming policies, but can’t rule out the return of roaming charges. µ

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